CHEYENNE – Trying to make a career as a professional golfer isn’t easy.
That’s the first thing Joshua Creel thinks anyone wanting to follow his footsteps should know.
“There is a lot of windshield time and a lot of time in hotel rooms,” the 2007 Cheyenne Central graduate said before teeing it up in the Tyrrell Wyoming State Open on Friday afternoon. “It can be a little lonely at times, especially when things aren’t going your way. But good golf tends to take care of everything.
“I’m going to keep plugging away, trying to play well and see what happens.”
Creel is in his sixth year as a professional. He turned pro right after winning the NCAA Division II individual championship as a senior at the University of Central Oklahoma.
The 27-year-old’s professional career first took him to PGA Tour Canada for two years and then to the PGA Tour Latinoamérica’s qualifying school in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“I had a couple of buddies who played down there and liked it,” said Creel, who splits his time between Oklahoma City and McKinney, Texas. “I signed up for the (qualifying) school and it was at a place called the Hurlingham Club and it was basically a compound with barbed wire at the top of these cement walls.
“I missed conditional status by a stroke and that was a blessing.”
It was a blessing because it led him to the Adams Pro Tour, which he has played on since 2014. The APT is a Texas-based circuit with events in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.
Creel is currently ranked seventh on the Adams Pro Tour money list. Last year, he was eighth. Creel has earned more than $111,000 on the APT.
He has made the cut in 41 of the 50 APT events he has played and won six times. Nearly $62,000 of his APT earnings has come from those wins.
“You’re not going to make a fortune playing the mini tours, but that’s not the goal,” said Creel. “The goal is to stay competitive, play good golf and work your way up.”
Creel liked playing on the PGA Tour Canada, but likes the APT because his travel expenses are lower and he has the chance to play in the Monday qualifying rounds for several Web.com and PGA Tour events. He qualified for the Web.com Tour’s Digital Ally Open last August in Overland Park, Kansas, and missed the cut after shooting 1-under-par 141 during his two rounds.
Creel played four rounds in the Web.com Tour Q School and tied for 131st at 8-over.
Playing in those events got Creel into the Web.com Tour’s “reshuffle,” which gives new players chances to get into tournaments without going through Monday qualifying. They still have the opportunity to earn a spot Mondays, but could bypass them by getting pulled into the reshuffle.
Creel’s time on the mini-tours, playing in Monday qualifiers and in Web.com events has shown him that while there is a clear delineation between each rung of the professional golf ladder, the gap isn’t chiasmic. The problem is there are so many talented players vying for spots that the margin for error at qualifying events is razor thin.
“I’m right there,” he said. “I’m shooting well and making birdies. I just need to do it at the right times.”
Last year was Creel’s first appearance in the Wyoming Open in a handful of years. He split third with three other players, including former Central teammate Klinton Krieger.
Creel tied for 14th this year. His 6-under-par 204 earned him $775.
“I wish I could come back home more often,” said Creel, who will tee off today at the ATP’s East Texas Open in Lufkin, Texas. “But to come back home and see familiar faces and play the course I have played hundreds of times growing up is a lot of fun.
“It brings back some really great memories.”